With nearly 2 million inhabitants, Gambia is the smallest country in Africa. However, thousands of them are eager to flee the country and are doing it. Since 2012, the annual amount of refugees has doubled. The goal of many is Europe; some of them even reach Germany. In 2015, Baden-Württemberg alone welcomed more than 5,000 Gambians. The people in the Southern German Federal State try everything, of course, to give shelter and take care of these refugees as well as all the refugees from other countries. Regarding the Gambian refugees especially, it is often asked why they leave their home country, even when there are, in comparison, only little to none news about terror, violence and war crimes.
On first glance, this is true. The country has a well-functioning agricultural branch as well as a pretty successful tourism branch. However, even in Gambia there are unfortunately many economical, personal and political reasons, which force especially young people, women and children to leave their home country: Unemployment, economical pressure from the family, little training and development opportunities, few to none future opportunities…Furthermore, there is a government that hasn’t changed since 1994. Even though there are three candidates competing in the current election for the office of President, experts and prognosis expect no change on the political top of Gambia…, but hope always dies last! For 22 years, the interests of the West African country have been led by the same president. The balance of power to the people, which has been caused by this, doesn’t tolerate hardly any to none criticism. Whoever doesn’t play by the governmental rules has to face hard consequences really quickly. According to Amnesty International there are a number of active violations against human rights:
In Gambia, the death penalty is still carried out. Homosexuals are discriminated, tortured and murdered. People, who criticize the system, are persecuted, disappear and are often never been seen again. The most current alarming news: Gambia – like Burundi and South Africa – canceled their membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague in November 2016.
Putting all these information into perspective, German asylum decision-makers have to ask themselves over and over, how to send these people back to Gambia with a clear conscience under those circumstances…Countless news and reports reach us about people who are punished, persecuted or even abducted after their return because of the flight.
And when the government won’t react, in most cases the own family will react to the unsuccessful flight with contravention or contempt. That is why many refugees, probably because of shame or fear, try to do everything to avoid their deportation or flee to another country right after they arrival back in the Gambia.
There is a need for alternative strategies – in Europe as well as directly on site in Gambia. One possibility: Perceive and use Gambians natural resources, like the rich and well developed agriculture, to give the youth new available perspectives to stay. That is exactly what the SOS Children’s Villages Gambia try to achieve with the SOS YOUTH AGRICULTURE PROJECT. The goal of this project is to train and develop the participants, Gambians between 14 and 30, so that they can become a part of the country’s economy by participating actively in the agricultural branch. The SOS YOUTH AGRICULTURE PROJECT shall start as quickly as possible, to transform an idea to a concrete alternative to fleeing the country.